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Writing Box (Suzuri-Bako) with Design of a Deer

Attributed to Hon'ami Kōetsu, Japanese, 1558 - 1637

Geography:
Made in Japan, Asia

Date:
Early 17th century

Medium:
Lacquer on wood with lead and mother-of-pearl inlay

Dimensions:
Width: 11 5/8 inches (29.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

Object Location:

* Gallery 242, Asian Art, second floor

Accession Number:
1992-7-1a--d

Credit Line:
Gift of the Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1992

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Label:
The theme used for the design of this box is taken from classical Japanese poetry, where autumn is often associated with the foliage turning to brilliant hues in the mountain hillsides of Japan. The cry of the deer, lonely for its mate and piercing the silence of the hills, has inspired generations of poets and artists. The motif of scattered autumn leaves carries over into the interior of the box, which is equipped with a water dropper and stone used for preparing ink.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    The famous calligrapher Hon'ami Köetsu was also a sword connoisseur, potter, tea master, and lacquer designer. While no piece of lacquer has been definitively assigned to his own hand, Köetsu's creative inspiration is clearly evident in this elegant writing box. In a theme taken from classical Japanese poetry, the cry of the deer, lonely for its mate, pierces the silence of the hills, whose foliage has turned the brilliant hues of autumn. The sense of solitude is emphasized by the black lacquer of the night sky, with the mother-of-pearl inlay of the autumn leaves reflecting silver in the moonlight against the faded gold of the ground. The motif of scattering autumn leaves is carried over into the interior of the box, which is equipped with a water dropper and stone used for preparing ink for writing. Felice Fischer, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 43.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.

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